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CO Reports: Warmer weather ice fishing

Area MnDNR Conservation Officer Weekly Reports - March 7, 2023

Photo illustration / Shutterstock, Inc.

District 9 - Brainerd area

CO Eric Sullivan (Brainerd) reports anglers in the area transitioned to targeting sunfish, crappies and eelpout this past week. The warm weather made time on the ice enjoyable and anglers reported some success. The snowmobile trails are stable in most areas and continue to have high activity.

CO Jim Guida (Brainerd #2) worked sport fishing and snowmobile trail enforcement. Compliance on new angling licenses, shelter removals, and snowmobile registrations were good. A trail hazard was addressed with a local snowmobile club. Guida assisted with a structure fire and attended a local public relations event. Warm weather made snowmobile trail conditions sloppy.


CO Tony Flerlage (Crosby) attended the Deerwood Outdoor and Gun Show and talked with many attendees outside the TIP Wall of Shame trailer. He checked anglers, finding good ice conditions and less reliable panfish bites. Snowmobile trails are in good condition in the area and are seeing high use on the weekends.

CO Chelsey Best (Pequot Lakes) took enforcement action this week for no fishing licenses and careless operation of a snowmobile. Ice shelters were documented for the upcoming removal deadline.

District 2 - Bemidji area

CO Brice Vollbrecht (Bemidji #1) worked angling activity on area lakes. Snowmobile and cross-country ski trails were patrolled. Numerous snowmobile riders were stopped for registration violations, even though it’s late in the season. An aerator inspection was completed.


CO Chris Vinton (Perham) reports fish house removal has proceeded nicely with cooperative weather. Few houses remained with one day left to go. A few anglers were reminded that shelters may not be left at the public accesses. Several calls were received about dead or injured eagles. Motorists are reminded that there are a large number of eagles moving back into the area and they feed heavily on car-killed deer, many of which are on the shoulder of the highways. Feeding eagles are often struck by passing vehicles. Car-killed deer permits were issued. Enforcement action was taken for unmarked shelters and shelters left at public accesses.

CO Jake Swedberg (Detroit Lakes) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Fresh snow really improved area snowmobile trails and lots of riders were seen out and about on the trails. Swedberg also spent time checking area lakes in the southern removal zone to track potential issues once the removal date comes.

CO Brett Fox (Bemidji #2) spent the week patrolling for snowmobile and ice angling activity. Fox did a presentation to a group of high school students about careers in the DNR. Fox also attended training at the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office, along with deputies and other COs. Violations this week included snowmobile-registration issues.

District 4 - Walker area


CO Jacque Hughes (Longville) checked angling and snowmobile activity. She also responded to a snowmobile accident.

CO Corey Sura (Remer) attended a law enforcement training with the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Office and had maintenance work done on patrol equipment. Sura worked a snowmobile and angling detail in the Lake of the Woods area. Many people were out enjoying the nice weekend weather, and compliance rates were very high overall. Enforcement action was taken for fishing with extra lines, unattended lines, expired snowmobile registration, and no shelter license.

CO Jordan Anderson (Wadena) spent time following up on miscellaneous injured-animal and deer-feeding complaints. The local trails are in good shape after the recent snows. Fishing activity was minimal in the station.

CO Michael Cross (Lake George) worked angling and snowmobiling and attended training. Cross saw very busy snowmobile traffic this weekend with the nice weather. Enforcement action was taken for snowmobile and angling violations.


CO Mark Mathy (Cass Lake) primarily checked perch and crappie anglers. Intermittent success was seen when checking the anglers. Snowmobile trails were also checked. Enforcement action was taken for angling violations.

CO Patrick McGowan (Walker) patrolled Leech Lake and surrounding Cass County lakes for angling activity. The recent heavy snow in the area has decreased the fishing activity and increased snowmobile traffic. Enforcement action was taken for a variety of violations.

CO Adam Seifermann (Staples) reports attending training in St. Paul.

District 7 - Grand Rapids area


CO Thomas Sutherland (Grand Rapids) worked snowmobiling and angling activity over the past week with many people still participating in outdoor activities. Enforcement action was taken for angling without a license and angling without a license in possession. Many snowmobile riders are still hitting the area trails. Trails are in OK condition even with the sun beginning to wear trails down.

CO Brian Holt (Grand Rapids) worked anglers and snowmobiling activity throughout the area. Time was also spent following up on open cases and checking complaints involving deer. Violations encountered included snowmobile-registration issues and speeding.

CO Taylor Hochstein (Hill City) followed up on several complaints involving snowmobile riders. The trails remain in good shape, with the fresh layer of snow that fell this past week. Fishing success varies from lake to lake, but anglers were happy with the warmer weather and were able to comfortably move around outside of the fish house.

District 10 - Mille Lacs area


CO Gregory Verkuilen (Garrison) checked snowmobile activity and found good trail conditions were bringing in a lot of non-resident riders. Registration and a lack of trail stickers were addressed. Most ice houses had been brought off the lakes, while perch and crappie anglers reported increased success.

CO Victoria Griffith (Isle) attended a kids fishing event in Aitkin County. Time was also spent checking ice anglers and snowmobile activity. Anglers were asked to clean up around their shelter and remove all garbage before leaving the lake.

CO Nate Benkofske (McGregor) checked anglers and snowmobile riders on area lakes. Enforcement action was taken for illegal-length walleyes, angling without licenses, extra lines, unattended lines, and expired snowmobile registration. Calls of illegal snowmobiling were investigated.

CO Dan Starr (Onamia) monitored snowmobile traffic and ice fishing activities. Work details on the North Shore found some trout fishing and snowmobile travel, however overall outdoor use was down substantially. Violations for snowmobile registration were found, as were fishing license infractions.

CO Ashley Whiteoak (Aitkin) spent time patrolling ice angling, snowmobiling, and trapping activity. She also spent time at McGregor Schools Fishing Day, where kids were able to fish, roast marshmallows, and play games. The area snowmobile trails have been in good condition.

District 11 - St. Cloud area

CO Stephen Westby (Little Falls) worked area lakes, rivers and trails for angling and snowmobile activity. With heavy snow, the trail systems are in great shape but several complaints for loud mufflers on snowmobiles were handled. Please make arrangements to have fish houses removed from public waters by the deadline. No storage is allowed at any public access. Because of the heavy snow, Westby has received phone calls about feeding deer. He reminds people there is a feed and attractant ban in Morrison County. Do not feed deer.

CO Tou Vang (Pierz) monitored angling and snowmobiling activities, fielded questions regarding coyote hunting, issued deer-possession permits, talked to youths and parents in Hillman at a snowmobile safety training certification class, and spent time with the Pierz Pioneer Elementary School sixth-grade class on their ice fishing field trip. A special thanks to the Harding Sportsman’s Club for their work and time put into plowing and drilling holes for the kids. Even though no fish were caught, everyone had fun trying.

CO Keith Bertram (Long Prairie) spent the week checking anglers and snowmobile riders. Enforcement action was taken for no registration, operating an ATV on a snowmobile trail, and no angling license. Fish house deadline issues were handled and training was completed.

CO Trent Anderson (St. Cloud) focused on snowmobile and angling enforcement for the week. Time was spent on assisting local agencies, public waterway violations, and wildlife-related calls. Area snowmobile trails benefited from the recent snow events but have started to degrade with the warmer weather. Enforcement action taken for the week included angling without a license, no shelter license, unattended lines, and possession of live minnows where prohibited.

CO Todd VanderWeyst (Paynesville) worked snowmobile activity and fishing activity. He received complaints of loud mufflers on snowmobiles and found a few sleds with illegal “can” mufflers. Enforcement action was taken and follow up with the previous owners who sold sled continues. Selling a snowmobile with an aftermarket exhaust is also illegal.

District 12 - Princeton area

CO Ryan Hanna (Milaca) patrolled area lakes and trails for outdoor related activities. Hanna enforced littering laws and ice shelter laws. The weather was wonderful and many people were out and about.

CO Adam Stennett (Sauk Rapids) spent the week working fishing and snowmobile activity. A neighboring officer was assisted with a fishing event in Isanti County. Equipment maintenance was taken care of and other agencies were assisted with various calls. Enforcement action for the week included snowmobile and ATV registration violations.

CO Mike Krauel (Mora) attended K9 training.

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